Managing Director, Harvard Library Innovation Lab
Citation to persistent sources is fundamental to all academic work. Libraries have traditionally collected, organized and preserved those cited sources. Citations today, however, increasingly refer to web pages, not just print sources. Because web pages change their content and disappear all the time, citations to them are ineffective at best and, at times, misleading. This problem, known as “link rot” or “reference rot,” means that much of our citation-dependent scholarship is being written on sand. Perma.cc is one solution to combat link rot. Unlike other web archiving services, such as ArchiveIt, Perma.cc relies on the creator of the work to do the archiving at the time of citation. Authors take snapshots of web pages they cite and deposit them in the Perma.cc service. Once deposited, Perma.cc assigns the web page a unique Perma URL (e.g. https://perma.cc/F37P-2E4V) that authors can add to the original URL in their citations. Should the original link later rot or be changed, readers can follow the Perma.cc URL to view the original source. Perma.cc was originally developed for use by the legal community but has received a National Digital Platform grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to broaden its use beyond the legal community. The service is now free to all colleges and universities. Libraries serve as the registrars for the Perma.cc service and provide support for their institutions’ users. This presentation will provide an overview of the service, the role the library plays, and instructions for signing up.